Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson. After recently reading this article about the necessity of re-watching some movies before you “really” get them, I don’t feel so silly about my nagging desire to see this movie a second time before I can really talk about it. But I’ll talk about it anyway, because, even though I would definitely benefit from a second viewing, to really wrap my head around the ins and outs of the plot, I feel like my initially incomplete grasp of the plot, my initial bewitched confusion with the fundamental confused incompleteness of the film itself, is totally fitting for a film like this. I’ve only read The Crying of Lot 49, but other than its unusually brief length, I feel like I’m fairly initiated into the meaning of the word “Pynchonesque” (not to be confused with “Pythonesque”), and my initial impression of this movie is that it bears more characteristics of a Pynchon work than of a P.T. Anderson work. Even in that statement, though, I feel like I’m opening myself up for endless arguments and refutations, so maybe I’ll back up and simply say that I liked this movie, that it was overall a “good” movie, that it has amazing performances, and great cinematography, and great music (a very un-Greenwoodesque sound, as long as I’m indulging in intolerable fake adjectives). I can see how people might find the “Pynchonesque” bits to be structural weaknesses that don’t translate well to film: there’s so much content, such a brisk pace, so many characters, so many bewildering clues and non-clues and dead ends and red herrings and mixed metaphors, and all of it covered with a veneer of totally un-serious goofiness just barely glazed over a very subtle but genuinely menacing dark undertone. By the end of this very long movie, you’re not sure if you were supposed to laugh or shiver (mostly laugh, I guess). But to me, all of this is really delightful, a ton of fun to watch onscreen, and a totally enjoyable experience for both the Anderson fan in me and the Pynchon fan in me. And, on top of all that, this film just hammers the point home what an incredibly talented and masterful performer and artist Joaquin turned out to be. I’m incredibly embarrassed to admit that, when he came out with his whole fake meltdown (chronicled in the film I’m Still Here), I worried that he had sabotaged his whole career, that the Hollywood establishment and the moviegoing public at large wouldn’t stand for that kind of artistic subtlety/ambiguity and leave him at the wayside. But he bounced back like nothing happened, and, if anything, has used that episode as a springboard to Joaquin 2.0—what looks like an even stronger career arc than before, Oscars or no.